Sandwiched between the sombre palette of her Golden Bear winning Adoption and delicate tapestry of The Two of Them – both, incidentally, were centered around the evolving bond between an older and a younger woman belonging to divergent social classes – Mészáros’ Nine Months stood out for its defiantly feminist posture. And yet, this was also achingly intimate, melancholic and bleakly beautiful, thus making this as much a stirring rallying cry as a heartbreaking portrayal of a passionate, increasingly bitter and ultimately doomed relationship. Juli (Lili Monori) is a striking, headstrong and fiercely independent working-class woman – with poignant undercurrents of emotional vulnerability – who’s drawn into an intense romance with her supervisor János (Jan Nowicki, who Mészáros would get married to post dissolution of her marriage to fellow Hungarian filmmaker Miklós Jancsó in 1973) soon after joining as a worker at a large factory that dominates the small industrial town where she lives. Their relationship, however, is complicated when he discovers that she’s a single mother with a kid from a prior relationship with a kindly university professor. That he’s a patriarchal, temperamental and possessive man who’s distrustful of Juli’s past, jealous of her son, angered by her refusal to let go of her financial self-reliance – viz. her job and distance learning diploma she’s pursuing – upon becoming pregnant, and secretive of her past to his family, gradually but inevitably take things to a tragic rapture despite the strong love she feels for him. Monori gave a nuanced, powerful and daring turn wherein her real and real pregnancies, quite astonishingly, coalesced at the film’s finale; the gray-blue, foggy, desolate and grungy visuals, in turn, exquisitely accentuated Mészáros’ bittersweet evocation of womanhood and motherhood.
Director: Marta Meszaros
Genre: Drama/Marital Drama